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Chapter 10 notes.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

Cognitive Psychology: Chapter 10 Introduction - Knowing language is a key part of being human; it is a human universal, and no other species has as complex a communicative system - Language is essential for a huge range of human achievements. Without it, cultural transmission of information and the acquisition of knowledge would be much more limited  Language is why we’re so successful as a species The Organization of Language - At a basic level, language involves translating thoughts into series of sounds that can be spoken - The listener then converts these series of sounds back into thoughts - Language has a hierarchical organization that allows these translations between thought and sound - Sentence – a coherent sequence of words that expresses meaning - Word – the smallest free form in a language - Morpheme – the smallest unit of sound that can carry meaning in a language - Phoneme – the smallest unit of sound that can distinguish words in a language  There are only 40 phonemes - This organization is hierarchical because sentences are composed of words, words are composed of morphemes, and morphemes are composed of phonemes Phonology - Phonemes are produced by modulating the flow of air from the lungs to the mouth and nose - Phonemes can be classified according to features - Voicing • Whether vocal folds vibrate ([z], [d], [b], [v]) • Or not ([s], [t], [p], [f]) - Manner of production • Whether air is fully stopped ([b], [p], [d], [t]) • Or merely restricted ([z], [s], [v], [f]) - Place of articulation • Where in the mouth the air is restricted: • Closing of lips ([b], [p]) • Top teeth against bottom lip ([v], [f]) • Tongue behind upper teeth ([d], [t], [z], [s]) - Speech perception is complicated by the fact that there are no gaps between phonemes, nor between words - Speech segmentation is the process of “slicing” the speech stream into words and phonemes - Coarticulation refers to how the production of each phoneme is slightly altered depending on the preceding and following sounds - As a result, no particular acoustic pattern corresponds to a phoneme such as [s]; the pattern is different in different contexts - As with vision, in speech perception we do not only rely on the stimuli we receive; we supplement this input with prior knowledge about words and the contexts in which they appear - This can be demonstrated with the phonemic restoration effect – we “hear” phonemes that are not actually present in the stimulus if they are highly likely in the context  E.g., we hear an *s+ in “legi*latures,” where the * represents a burst of noise -- We can use context to fill in the blanks - Our categorization of phonemes shows abrupt boundaries, even when there is no corresponding abrupt change in the stimuli themselves  We are able to detect these abrupt boundaries - This phenomenon is referred to as categorical perception - Phonology is also concerned with the sequences of phonemes that are acceptable in the language  E.g., the sequence [tl] is not acceptable in English - Other rules govern the adjustments that must occur when certain phonemes are uttered in sequence.  E.g., the [s] sound becomes a [z] in words like “bags” Words - For each word that a speaker knows, there are several kinds of information: • Phonology – the sequence of phonemes that make up the word • Orthography – how the word is spelled (if the person is literate) • Syntax – how to combine the word with other words • Semantics – what the word means - Our syntactic knowledge about a word includes whether it requires a direct object (e.g., “put”) or cannot take one (e.g., “sleep”) - A referent is the actual object, action, or event in the world that a word refers to - A large part of “knowing a word” is knowing the relevant concept - Therefore, the same complexities of conceptual knowledge that we have previously encountered also apply to words and semantics - Our morphological knowledge specifies how to create variations of each word by adding appropriate morphemes  E.g., hack, hacker, hacking, hacked - This is one example of language’s generativity – the capacity to create an endless series of new combinations, all built from the same set of basic units Syntax - Generativity is also a fundamental property of how words are combined in phrases and sentences - If you know 40,000 words, and we limit sentences to 20 words in length, there are 10 20possible sequences of these words - For practical purposes, there is an infinitely large number of sentences that speakers can produce in their language - Syntax also provides rules that specify the kinds of sequences of words that are acceptable:  “The boy hit the ball.” - And those that are not acceptable:  “The boy hit ball the.” - These rules also help us determine the relationships among the words in the sentence, for instance, who was doing the chasing in the sentence:  “The boy chased the girl.” -
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